a question on politics


What are your thoughts on democracy? Is it the best system/ form of government?

And if you are a supporter of democracy what about it do you think makes it a great system?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

164 thoughts on “a question on politics

  1. I think democracy could be a good system if it truly represented everyone. However, here in America, it really doesn’t. Very few who can, vote, especially those in poor communities. Thus, they aren’t represented. The wealthy control a lot of what happens in elections. The poor and disenfranchised, when they do vote, often vote for the very people who hurt them because they are deliberately kept ignorant thru a poor education system and religious B.S. I’m not sure true democracy can exist. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

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    • makagutu says:

      I don’t think you are wrong. Am not sure education is a salve to the problems of democracy.

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      • Perhaps not, but an uneducated populace is one which elects shit-heals like George W. Bush into office and might just vote his brother into to the same office in 2016. Keeping people dumb is very helpful to preachers, politicians, and ding-bats named Bush. A government that does not promote learning for all of its citizens is not a good one. And leaders who weave black and white religious dogma into their leadership style are awful regardless of what form of government they practice. Smarter people, people taught to question bullshit when they smell it, demand more from their leaders than simple rhetoric about god and country. That type of person is sorely lacking in my country and the politicians here are glad of it.

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        • makagutu says:

          What % of the population are concerned with such questions? Even the so called middle class cares only for their security that’s why most are happy to see the policeman on the street

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          • The educated %. Sorry brother, but if you are arguing that de-valuing education as we do here is NOT a HUGE problem, you are wrong. Deeply wrong. I’ve no idea whether it can solve all problems. It isn’t happening here, so I only see the results of hat an uneducated public does. Keeping people dumb is a plus for leadership here. Do you value your ability to reason and think? Do you use it when you decide who to vote for or if not to vote? Did you go to university or in some way become educated on your own and value it? answers to perfect systems I do not have, but you are arguing as if it simply doesn’t matter if education is valued and given to people or not. That, to me, is dangerous, elitist thought, especially because it’s coming from an educated person who thinks for himself. Why not value that and instill it in more people? Do you take bribes to vote for evil politicians? I doubt it. Doesn’t your ability to reason help you see that you shouldn’t?

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          • makagutu says:

            Not for a moment would I devalue education. I am an advocate for education that teaches people to think.
            My argument maybe elitist, but it is realistic. The educated mass here vote for the most idiotic of politicians.
            And yes, we are in agreement that keeping people dumb makes them believe the most stupid things. Their needs are simple and whoever offers the solution to their hunger and shelter gets the votes even if this is an ignoramus.

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          • You know, I wish someone would bribe me to vote for them. I’d take the $ and vote for who I wanted to any way. I really could use the $. I’m not elitist when it comes to education: I’m fascist. If I were emperor, I’d see that everyone received a valuable liberal education so that they could reason having an emperor is not really a great idea. Oh, I may have to have a few publicly executed if they rallied against me, but not many. I value education, and ridiculous paradoxes, that much. πŸ˜€

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          • makagutu says:

            hahaha. I like that my friend. We value education both of us, our approach is where the difference is

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          • Well, help me become emperor, and I’ll make you vice emperor. We can then learn people right!

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  2. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Democracy is a good concept in a society that supports an educated public – regrettably, in places that most sorely need it, the average person is too busy scrambling to feed his/her family, to be concerned with education. Politicians, and the money/power brokers who support them in exchange for later support for their agendas, then use emotions to sway the uneducated, in an effort to buy their votes with promises of physical and emotional security, often creating crises to which they, exclusively, purport to have the resolution.

    Sadly, I have no viable alternates that leap to mind.

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    • john zande says:

      Spot on. Democracy doesn’t work in Brazil because we do not have an educated population, yet do have compulsory voting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know you had compulsory voting in Brazil. Wow. Forcing a populace that’s more or less deliberately kept uneducated to vote, I’m shocked the Republicans here in America haven’t figured out that trick.

        Liked by 1 person

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Shhhhhhhh!

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        • makagutu says:

          it wouldn’t bring the desired results all the time

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          • I completely disagree with you. Republicans continually get poor people to vote for them, even though they hate the poor and do all they can to destroy every government program that helps them. By keeping people uneducated, you make them cattle to more easily lead by the nose. Yes, some people, no matter what, can be bought, but here it isn’t necessary. Keep them dumb. Keep them reliant on god and pretty TV commercials to tell them how to think, and they do what you want even what what you want is for them to destroy themselves by voting for you. The public education system here sucks. Teaching people to truly think and reason for themselves is not valued. It may not solve every possible problem, and I do not truly know if democracy is the right answer for a decent government, but I certainly know that deliberately devaluing education, keeping the poorest of your citizens unlearned, is definitely not a good thing. I see it every time we have an election here. It is why right wing, bible thumping assholes run the southern half of America. It’s easier to accept the word of corrupt preachers as totally true if you’re not taught to think and question things. Change starts with knowing it can, and sometimes should, happen, but people need to be educated to realize this. It starts with education.

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          • makagutu says:

            Having compulsory voting would not always result in a republican in office. The side with the majority will always win and sad thing, at bottom, the mob is stupid

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          • Then make them not stupid by educating them. Compulsory voting? I made a smart-ass remark to John’s comment. I’m not defending compulsory voting. I’m defending education so more people have the opportunity to think and reason as you do. I said, and will say again, I do not know what a decent form of government is or if one is possible. What I do know, is that if you keep people deliberately dumb, poor and ignorant, they will continually be lead by the nose to their own demise. Are you not valuing your own education? Did it help you? Why should others not be given the chance to learn, think and reason as you do? Will they all? I don’t know. It isn’t allowed to happen. You’d make a wonderful Republican with your arguments on education not mattering, my friend. Your smart, highly intelligent, and you reason very well. You’d be elected in no time to a nice office here. Those voting for you would be too dumb to realize you think educating them is useless. Educate people first, then let’s see where it goes. Otherwise, the few who are educated, can continue to think others won’t be as wise as they are. I’d like to see what happens if education became highly valued to freely offered to all. Might not help, but this shit I live with here surely doesn’t either.

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          • makagutu says:

            Jeff, you seem to have misunderstood me. I value education and for anything I value mine a lot. I know those we were with in college who the only benefit they got from school was to be employable not to think and that there is my problem. I am saying let us have education that trains people on how to and not what to think.
            And what do with an uneducated public? Do we allow them to vote? Do we say they shouldn’t vote until they get education? I don’t know but I would prefer not to be led by the mob

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        • fojap says:

          This is actually a reply to the comment below, but there’s no reply button so I’m putting it here. The notion that poor people vote Republican is actually untrue. Rich people vote Republican. This is a myth that helps Republicans greatly because the can hide how unrepresentative their views are. From Paul Krugman:

          Contrary to what some people keep saying, people with higher incomes, other things equal, tend to vote Republican. Cut through the noise and fog, and it is true that Democrats broadly want to redistribute income down, and Republicans want to redistribute income up β€” and on average, voters get that (which is why β€œlibertarian populism” is hot air). But race and ethnicity also matter, a lot. What you can see right away is that there are three groups that are fairly anomalous.

          1. African-Americans β€œshould” lean Democratic, given their low incomes, but they are much more Democratic than this alone would predict.

          2. Southern whites are just as much of an anomaly; they have close to the national median income,and β€œshould” be pretty evenly split between parties, but instead are almost entirely Republican.

          3. Asian-Americans are relatively high-income, but also strongly Democratic. Although I don’t have the data, Jews would surely look similar.

          http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/income-raceand-voting/

          Number two tells us why the racial angle the Republicans like to play is so important to their ability to win. There are days that I think Northerners should establish missionary schools in the South and bring them the benefits of civilization. πŸ™‚

          By the way, last night I dreamed that the Democrats took back the house in 2016.

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          • That’s b.s. I worked in Social Service for decades with the poorest of the poor. The vast majority either don’t vote or vote against their best interest. I was what’s known as a voter’s assistant. I took people to vote and watched who they voted for. Hundreds of them over the decades. I’ve seen it first hand. Yes. Rich vote Republican and many poor don’t. The educated ones. Sorry. But I’ve watched the button get pressed on Bush, Bush, Regan, Romney, etc, ect by the very people they were destroying. An argument against educating your populace is an elitist right wing piece of dangerous bullshit. It matters. I’ve seen it.

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          • fojap says:

            I wasn’t arguing against educating the populace.

            You’re in the Chicago area, right? Was race, religion or any other of those types of things factors?

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          • Not really. Well, yes, it was. Racial shit here is high. I first started doing the assistance thing when Harold Washington, a black man, won the democratic nomination for mayor. Now, in Chicago, Republicans have no chance usually of becoming mayor, but racial hatred was so high back then, one nearly did. Whites voted for the Republican, Bernie Epton, an cantankerous little shit, and blacks, Latinos, and liberal-ass whites like me vote for Washington. Harold won, and all hell broke loose in the city council. Dozens of elderly, poor white folk voted for Epton because he was white. Liberal education that teaches reasoning could help in such cases, I think. But, since it isn’t valued on a general level, I’ll never know. Republicans are far better at politicking than Democrats. Time and again, particularly in Federal elections, I’ve seen poorly educated people voting for the very people who want to take away medicare and social security. When I mention it, I get very grouchy answers to mind my own god damn business.

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          • fojap says:

            Interesting. I’ve never done voting assistance. I’ve mainly done petitioning and get-out-the-vote drives. For get-out-the-vote drives I only dealt with Democrats, so that was easy. As far as petitioning goes, I’ve only lived in predominately Democratic areas. When I was in Baltimore, for city council there wasn’t even a Republican on the ballot. The choice was between a Green and a Dem.

            Maryland got a Republican governor the last election, though.

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          • Yeah. In Chicago, the ONLY time a Republican came close to winning a local office was due to racism. Hasn’t happened since. The institution I worked for had hundreds of folks who need physical assistance voting. It was forbidden to tell them who to vote for, but, well, I did any way. it’s the Federal elections that pissed me off most. Time and again folks would vote for Republican presidents when in reality they were voting against themselves. Local, Chicago, ones are just between democrats, like the one in two weeks here for mayor.

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          • fojap says:

            I hope we’re not boring everyone with too much local US stuff, but…

            The Democratic nominee for governor in Maryland was black, or his father is, but it’s hard to say whether or not race was much of a factor. The reality is that the Dems were too complacent. He was an awful candidate, but he had been the Lieutenant Governor and therefore it was his turn. Also, since Maryland is so heavily Democratic, they just assumed there was no way they could lose. When it happened, everyone thought it was a stunning upset.

            I can’t say that I like Emanuel, but I don’t know anything about the other guy.

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          • Emanuel is a douche-bag. Basically thinks the job is and should just be his. “Chuy” Garcia is running against him, but I don’t think he has enough $ to win. Sad. Always comes down to that. Hope I’m wrong, but I’m usually not on such matters. Sorry for the local talk, Mak. But, hey, I’m gonna be emperor soon, so there. πŸ™‚

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          • makagutu says:

            not yet, you are far from boring anyone and by giving examples we get closer to the core of the problem

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          • makagutu says:

            The educated ones. Sorry. But I’ve watched the button get pressed on Bush, Bush, Regan, Romney, etc, ect by the very people they were destroying.

            Jeff, you say yourself educated people have voted for the very people destroying them and this is what am saying too. It is not always the educated would vote wisely, some do, most do not

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          • makagutu says:

            i think that dream may come true if the dems get their act together

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          • fojap says:

            The problem is that too many Dems don’t really want to win. Have you ever noticed how much the far left hates Obama? He’s a politician and he made the concessions necessary to win. That makes the left so mad. You’re supposed to go down fighting the good fight.

            Me, I don’t like that going down part.

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          • You’re very right about the far left and Obama. We gots ta band together people! Or we will fall. $Amen$

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          • Ignostic Dave says:

            I warrant that rich people vote Republican because they enjoy the upward redistribution of wealth. Poor people will vote Republican because they’d like to be like rich people, and follow suit hoping that if they do what the wealthy do then they will become rich as well. This, of course, is illogical beyond measure, but we’ve already noted that the poor are uneducated and kept that way.

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    • makagutu says:

      don’t you think even in educated populations, the politicians still bribe the voters with other grand promises?

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  3. john zande says:

    In principle it’s fine, but in practice it quickly becomes a plutocracy.

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    • Yes. Plutocracy. That’s the term I was thinking of but couldn’t jar loose from my noodle. We pretty much have that here in the States, I’d say.

      Liked by 1 person

      • john zande says:

        Pretty much? I think you guys have had it since Reagan, but you’re only starting to wake up to the fact. It’s like capitalism. It was killed by corporatism decades ago, but people are only now realising.

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        • Some people are waking up to it, but nowhere near enough, unfortunately. And, yes, you’re right. It started with Herr Reagan, our first Fuehrer.

          Liked by 1 person

        • themodernidiot says:

          our government has always been a plutocracy.

          Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            or oligarchy

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          • themodernidiot says:

            It’s not always been an oligarchy, nor will it be as long as we have the method and means to change it. Our submission and apathy tolerates such behavior, but the elite’s power isn’t entirely pervasive or controlling, as much as discerners would like to say so. Indeed, the potential is always there, but the inevitability is not– primarily because of the basic tenets of democracy.

            The thing about democracy that people refuse to accept is that there will always exist division, disparity, and difference of opinion; it is its glory as well as its downside. But that people do ultimately have the power to change or oust the ills in the system, and check and balance the system when it goes astray is what makes democracy to a useable foundation.

            There will always be mistakes and reversals of fortune in democratic endeavors, but fluidity is inherent, making it a viable, long-term, program.

            And being able to hang out on a street corner shouting that it’s total shit while holding a stack of porn and standing on a pile of bibles without fear of being arrested or shot is a nice advantage as well.

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          • That’s one of my favorite hobbies. I do suggest getting hard bound bibles if you’re going to do this. Fell off a stack of soft covered ones once and dropped my porn into a mud puddle. VERY disappointing, that was. Well stated stuff on democracy, BTW.

            Liked by 1 person

          • themodernidiot says:

            I use those old ones that are like four foot square and took like three sheep to make and four monks to carry. put it on wheels.

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        • fojap says:

          Plutocracy definitely existed prior to Reagan, but it’s gotten far worse since. I guess it’s ebbed and flowed over time which makes be wonder if the elements of a plutocracy or oligarchy exist in all democracies and if it’s only a matter of degree.

          I should probably confess that I don’t think it’s ever possible to build a system that functions well. I thing that even in a best case scenario it’s always a matter of propping some parts up and banging some parts down and making constant adjustments.

          Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      In principle or in theory?

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  4. Mordanicus says:

    The alternatives aren’t any better than democracy – yes, I am cynical. Power attracts the wrong type of people. And yes, education is our only way to improve democracy.

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  5. tildeb says:

    Democracy is nothing more than mob rule. It’s quite a different thing altogether to have a government ruling by the consent of the governed. Often, these two ideas are conflated to tragic results (see the Arab Spring for details).

    So to have a functioning democracy that is responsible to the governed (a reciprocal system that appeals to our innate sense of fairness and justice) requires a set of equality rights laws of the individual along with defined political powers that cannot alter these to suit partisan goals then allows a population to avoid the arbitrary nature and tyranny of mobs. This is the plank that is so often missing from popular revolutions and what creates enough anarchy to allow a strongman to emerge with popular support justified by the loose term democracy in action.

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  6. A Guy Without Boxers says:

    If democracy were true and not corrupted by greed or power. it would be best represented for all people

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  7. Not-Quite-Anarchy mixed with a Resource-Based Economy and voting that allows for mixed results, not candidates. Whatever that is.

    I’m not a fan of democracy, even true democracy. The government shouldn’t be run on account of those who shout the loudest or have the most numbers. There are basic things we should have: homes, food, clothes, love, basic safety, healthcare. Government should make sure everyone has free access to those and stay out of pretty much everything else.

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    • Like the Republicans want? Gov’t will stay out of everything but your bedroom and your private life, right? A democracy of people voting FOR the people against such shit is what should matter. It won’t happen, but it’s nice to think about.

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      • Republicans don’t want basic needs taken care of. They want religious needs of fanatical Christians taken care of, they want the wealth of the rich taken care of, they want the rest of the world subservient to the US, they want guns for all (who are white), and warped family values to rule society. They want government in just about everything but their money, fuck all if other people don’t have their basic needs. I think what I suggest is rather different. πŸ˜›

        Voting for candidates to make decisions for us doesn’t help. We just end up with a small group of people that have to be corrupted. Once they are, the game is over.

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      • makagutu says:

        democracy is always against the people

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        • What do you suggest? Is it possible to have a decent government? I know this, keeping people dumb is not a good thing. And here in America, we are proud of being dumb. Arrogant of it. value god, Jesus, and Ronald Reagan’s ghost and you’re a fuckin’ hero. Think. Question, and you’re anti-American and an atheist, or worse, an Islamic terrorist atheist, like MANY Americans think Obama is. Value ignorance and stupidity, and you get Ken Ham running here from Australia setting up a million dollar business based on the earth being only 6000 years old. He’s embraced here. Honored. Loved. Why? Because he is a man of faith. Hell, he could be president if he were a natural citizen. I don’t know what type of government is best. I do know that keeping people dumb is not the road to salvation for anyone but a very, very select few.

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          • makagutu says:

            we agree that keeping people dumb isn’t a good thing. Unfortunately, I have no good alternative. I am just a critique, maybe a bad one because I don’t offer solutions

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    • makagutu says:

      i think i agree

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  8. Democracy is not a great political system. It is full of flaws which we can witness every day. However, without democracy some form of authoritarianism always results simply because there is no other alternative. So, I’ll take democracy despite its flaws. At least it allows ordinary people to have some say in governance. I have no taste for kings, queens, dictators, or any other title power-hungry megalomaniacs give themselves.

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  9. Veracious Poet says:

    We don’t arrive at good decisions by mere numbers – it takes vision, knowledge and intelligence. If the Romans had busied themselves with an ideal democracy, they would not have built an empire that stretches all the way to the north of Africa.

    I always believe that the most important thing about leadership is an uncompromising commitment to the welfare of the people.

    Look at my country, where corruption is gradually being constitutionalized. Capitalism has eaten its way into their genes. The rich gets richer and the poor poorer. And the politicians keep them poor so they can serve as foot soldiers for political parties. The end product is some kind of dystopia.

    It is even alleged that this Boko Haram group is an offshoot of party foot soldiers who were used and dumped.

    I think true democracy can only work with an educated populace. And I try my best not to be bitter but to also do my part.

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    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      I think true democracy can only work with an educated populace.” – I agree with this 100%!

      If the Romans had busied themselves with an ideal democracy, they would not have built an empire that stretches all the way to the north of Africa.

      This is certainly true, but it was built on the blood and guts of its people and of the people whose lands they conquered. Why did a little country like Italy need a vast empire? The BBC has a fascinating series on the history of the Roman Empire, available on YouTube, and it showcases a five hundred-year history of the loss of human lives – how much better that Italy had concentrated on the welfare of it’s countrymen and allowed the rest of the word to do the same. How many Da Vinci’s, how many Buonarroti’s bones lay bleaching on Roman battlefields in the name of the ego of some Roman Emperor?

      Without the Roman Empire, Christianity would have lived and died in an obscure little desert country, just another radical, Middle Eastern cult – instead, we’ve suffered it’s effects for 2000 years.

      World War 1 was the last battle of the Roman Empire, which was early on transferred from Rome to Germany, with it’s last “Caesar,” Kaiser (Caesar) Wilhelm on it’s throne, and WW II was its offspring. How many – a few of whom are still alive today – fought because Rome decided it needed more land than it was entitled to, because the egos of a few had more value than the lives of the many?

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      • Veracious Poet says:

        Many think the Roman empire has disintegrated, therefore it is extinct. Look at Europe, look at the IMF, look at the World Bank, Look at the IFC, these are the new empires. We have made progress though as a human race but the battle (which is now fought in the mind) is and will continue to be won at the expense/toil of others.

        Us, humanists, we can only sympathize with the losers. They say “power to the people” ….power my ass! they always deny the people all means of self defence. Because when one is vulnerable then one becomes subservient.

        The Armed Forces are said to have been trained to defend the country from any external threat but I bet if there is any internal aggression or uprising, they will not hesitate to unleash them on their own citizens. This is why I say a corrupted form of democracy is far worse than despotism.

        To where does Iraqi oil flow these days? To where does Libyan oil flow these days? To where does Sierra Leonian diamonds go these days?

        History will always be a two sided story and what do I care what system of governance is in place as long as basic needs are met and there is peace and order so I can enjoy my life. Man is inherently incompetent to successfully tackle the problems of this world. That is why some of us believe that it will take superhuman intelligence to solve all the problems of this world.

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        • makagutu says:

          ah a humanist, I believe, you must hold it that humanity’s problems can only be solved by the work of men not some transcendence

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            Perhaps Nietzsche put it brilliantly: “Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the superman.” Meaning that we are not just mammals, we are capable of reaching a state of divinity.

            My kind of humanism is not individualistic. It is a known as “Cooperative Humanism.”

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          • makagutu says:

            As you maybe aware, am a great fan of Nietzsche and I can tell you he was the quintessential individualist. He had no faith in the masses. His supermen were a very small group of men and women

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            Who are these small group of people? Living in his time? Any names? Remember Nietzsche is known to be a very poetic, controvertial and ambiguous writer. He often likens the “superman” to the “lightening-out-of-the-dark-cloud man.” Whatever phrase he uses I don’t he is referring to an ordinary human being. But it is ofcourse, open to various interpretations.

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          • makagutu says:

            I don’t understand your point. Are you by chance implying meant all would be supermen?

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            Only few – the very moral and virtuous who apply themselves solely to the service of humanity. Perhaps one out of billions.

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          • makagutu says:

            whether they are moral or virtuous, I don’t know. What I know is that supermen he had in mind were free spirits

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            Any references to actual texts?

            Considering the fact that no one has seen God, I think what he meant were “spirit beings” who were once real human beings…like Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Mohammed, Vishnu etc.

            Even Gandhi nearly became a deity or something archetypal. He did appear in Indian folklore.

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          • makagutu says:

            Twilight of the idols.
            Thus spake zarathustra

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            From “Thus Spake Zarathustra.”
            — Zarathustra’s prologue.

            “When Zarathustra arrived at the nearest town which adjoineth the forest, he found many people assembled in
            the market-place; for it had been announced that a rope-dancer would give a performance. And Zarathustra
            spake thus unto the people:
            I TEACH YOU THE SUPERMAN. Man is something that is to be surpassed. What have ye done to surpass
            man?
            All beings hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and ye want to be the ebb of that great tide,
            and would rather go back to the beast than surpass man?
            What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock, a thing of shame. And just the same shall man be to the Superman:
            a laughing-stock, a thing of shame.
            Ye have made your way from the worm to man, and much within you is still worm. Once were ye apes, and
            even yet man is more of an ape than any of the apes.
            Even the wisest among you is only a disharmony and hybrid of plant and phantom. But do I bid you become
            phantoms or plants?
            Lo, I teach you the Superman!”

            Here one can see that by SUPERMAN, he was at least, speaking of something higher than man. It’s some kind of progression: animal–man–superman.

            I am yet to read “Twilight of the idols.”

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          • makagutu says:

            It’s a good book, The Twilight of the idols, that is.

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          • Unless that transcendent being is the Golden Boot. In that case, it can be used to kick its way to what is right. πŸ™‚

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          • makagutu says:

            you and I are in agreement. We are the last prophets

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      • makagutu says:

        there is nothing to add here

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    • fojap says:

      Pardon me, but which country is yours?

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    • makagutu says:

      Rome was not a democracy at all times.
      Education I think only makes the bribe higher

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      • Veracious Poet says:

        True and that’s because they were more interested in expansionism/economic gains. The emperors don’t always act on decisions by the senate. After all said and done, democracy doesn’t put food on table?

        Within an educated populace one cannot bribe a voter with a bottle of beer to vote for him but in a predominantly ignorant community one can.

        I agree, education will not solve the problem completely but it creates an awareness of the problem and only then will there be hope of progression or some kind of solution.

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  10. Arkenaten says:

    The most notable thing about democracy is it is the one system where the leader of a country cannot truly be blamed as it was the a-holes who voted him/her into power in the first place.

    A country gets the government it deserves.

    Remember:
    An Empire is rule by an Emperor.
    A Kingdom is ruled by a King
    and a Country is ruled by a … well you figure it out!

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  11. fojap says:

    I’m not by any means a fan of Winston Churchill’s political views, but he did have one of the better lines about democracy: The worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried. My ex-husband used to tell me that I only believed that democracy was a good form of government because I was a brain washed American.

    tildeb, I think, makes a great point. Pure democracy does not yield a just world. In fact, one of my problems with Utilitarianism is that, as far as I can see, if a large number of people were made very happy by a small number of people being harmed, Utilitarians would find that fine. So, democracies must have limits on democracy itself.

    Among the “Founding Fathers” of the United States, I’ve always liked Benjamin Franklin. Unlike most of the others, he came from a relatively modest background. He promoted education that was more practical and less “decorative.” He founded the first public library in U.S. He also founded a school that would become the University of Pennsylvania. He also had been a newspaper publisher.

    Several people in this thread have mentioned education. I think for a democracy to be functional the culture must be supportive of it, not only with formal education, but with support for libraries, a general positive attitude towards continual self-improvement, and healthy journalism.

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  12. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Among any species of animal that congregates in groups, whether wolves or apes, one always fights to rise to dominance. This will always be so, or at least into the far, foreseeable future. Democracy removes the need for violent ascension, provides a choice as to who will lead, effects a means for removing malfeasant leaders, and assures that no leadership becomes a dynasty.

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    • fojap says:

      One of the reasons I tend to object to the notion of leaderless groups is that there such a thing never exists. In place of an acknowledged system of power, you wind up with an informal system of power, which can often me more unfair and more difficult to fight against since it is unacknowledged. My experiences with such things occurred when I was very young in the context of feminism. A classic article on this was written by Jo Freeman, The Tyranny of Structurelessness.

      This means that to strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive, as to aim at an “objective” news story, “value-free” social science, or a “free” economy. A “laissez faire” group is about as realistic as a “laissez faire” society; the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can be so easily established because the idea of “structurelessness” does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones. … Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, and within the women’s movement is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious of their power or not). As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is limited to those who know the rules. Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion….

      I also witnessed it from the outside during the anarchist Tompkins Square Park occupation. I didn’t participate, but I had a close friend who was involved and she was always trying to drag me down there saying that the way everyone cooperated without leaders would restore my faith in humanity. However, she was beautiful, smart, highly charismatic, tall, people just were naturally drawn to her. Groups like that have always been bad news for me. Ironically, I’ve always found leaderless groups to be uncomfortable for non-conformists.

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    • makagutu says:

      I agree arch. At some point the mob gets tired of being effed and revolt, peacefully like at elections or violently as in the Arab spring. The mob for a brief moment thinks they are all is well. If America assisted them in the revolt, they get sold the idea that democracy will solve their problems and they swallow it like it is the best thing that happened to it only to realize they have created a system where bribery becomes the order the day. Even the president has to bribe his way to lead by making promises the mob wants to hear and the loudest guy wins.

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      • Here. I’m lead by a mob that’s lead by politicians who get them to vote for them because they keep them stupid and dependent on them. I value LIBERAL education: one which, like you said, trains people to think. Our universities have become job training schools and business colleges to merely train people for specified jobs. I should have clarified what I mean by “education”. I mean training people to think. Philosophy, debates, literature, art, these things are becoming lost even to educated people. If you don’t teach people to reason and think, and value those things, you have rule by the mob one way or another. Mobs of people vote Republican. I mentioned earlier I used to take folks to vote as part of my Social Service job. I saw hundreds of poor and elderly folks and disabled folks voting for the very people who want them destroyed. Of course, I tried to dissuade them from doing so, and sometimes it worked, but usually it didn’t. Once I’m emperor, this will all be solved. πŸ˜€

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        • makagutu says:

          you see we are in agreement on type of education. I would love it if you were to be emperor in my lifetime, I would be your minister for education

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          • No. I wasn’t saying that, though it is true. It depends on what type of education we’re talking about. The uneducated disabled and poor people I’ve worked with for decades almost always vote against their best interest. Ones who value a liberal, well-rounded education, usually don’t. what is education? Surely Mitt Romney is an educated guy. I value teaching people to reason and think. This is not valued even in universities. Not anymore. Business and engineering are. Not that these are bad, but learning to think must be valued above all else or people don’t think. I’m telling you, hundreds of people I’ve know over the decades in my job voted against their best interest. Hundreds. Time and time again. Why? They were not educated on how to question and think for themselves. They followed the brightest smile and voted for it. That is rule by the mob. That is rule by a mob that is lead by a leader who knows the mob will vote for him if they’re kept dumb and ignorant and not taught the value of reasoning and questioning and learning. Teaching black and white thinking to untrained minds is easy. I’ve seen it. Hundreds of times. I was ruled by a conservative christian mob when George W was elected and will be again when his brother takes office in 2 years. That is rule by a frenzied mob of right-wing theocratic, poorly educated voters who are lead into the booth by their master and told who to vote for. A vote for a Republican is a vote for Jesus, White America, and bombs dropping on terrorists in the middle east. That, to me is being ruled by a mob.

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          • makagutu says:

            I agree with you 102% on all points.
            People must either be taught, I don’t know how, to think. That should be the most important lesson in all education

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          • You’ll make a fine co-emperor, my friend. πŸ™‚ Sorry if I was too bitchy in my remarks at first. Education, a proper education, for all people is a big issue with me, and I gets cranky about it sometimes. That’s why being emperor will be so cool! πŸ™‚ $Amen$

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          • makagutu says:

            Now that we are in agreement, how do we teach people how to think?

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          • With a powerful military and glorious torture techniques. Did wonders for christianity, so, why not take a page from their book?

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          • makagutu says:

            Do you think a person who on Sunday believes Jonah ate the whale is educated? Isn’t such a person, no matter their profession a threat to democracy given that at some point, this person is likely to defer to the opinion of his shaman?

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          • I do not consider them educated, or reasonable. By education, I mean the ability to question, reason, and remain open that maybe, just maybe, you may be wrong about things. What’s sorely lacking in America is liberal education and value placed on it. We value blind adherence to God, The Flag, Jesus, and America! It’s sickening, and not in any way “educated”.

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          • makagutu says:

            We have been on the same side all along.

            Like

          • We have. It was just semantics. I should have defined sooner what I consider a true education. In the States, people go to university to learn job skills like business etc, and no value is placed on teaching people how to think, reason, and question things. It keeps the rich rich and the poor poor.

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          • makagutu says:

            Though I accept the charge of elitism. I think there are people who are ineducable. Look at Cs or Som or insanity bites on violet’s blog. Or smarmy Brandon.

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          • I’m an elitist as well in that regard. A good education must begin in childhood, early childhood. Teach children to value knowledge and wonder instead of doctrine and horseshit, and they, and society, has a chance. De-value those things, deny poor children the chance to develop critical thinking skills, and you get idiot adults like SoM, CS, and Brandon. Smarmy arrogant shit-heals who are now unteachable because their brains have developed into peanuts. In America, we do not place value on education. Not the kind that teaches thinking and reasoning skills and instills a sense of awe and wonder into children about nature and the world. We value Jesus, The Flag, God, and Bombs, but mostly we value $. It sickens me.

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          • tildeb says:

            The perspicacious commencement speaker at my grad described education in a way that I think hits the bull’s eye: education is what you have left after you’ve forgotten everything you’ve ever learned.

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          • Well said. I like that.

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          • Yes! We were arguing semantics here, my friend. I apologize. To me, there is no education unless it’s a liberal one covering art, philosophy, literature, debate, etc. You know, all the shit that’s de-valued even in many schools nowadays. Sad really. All hail me as emperor! A foot and a half tall guy with a lighten bolt glued to his hand! $Amen$

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          • makagutu says:

            as the other last prophet. I prophesy you should be emperor.

            Like

  13. shelldigger says:

    I think democracy was a good idea when it started. What it has become is some bastardized version of its original intent.

    I have thought for years that there should be term limits on every public office, to weed out the corrupt. At least the new blood will have some time to get proper things done before they too, become corrupt.

    As far as educating the masses, I sometimes think that those capable of becoming educated, will to some extent. Many who are impervious to education will remain southern Baptists.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      or Methodists.
      We have elections every five years and many times the corrupt politicians get reelected. Having a fixed term doesn’t solve the problem

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  14. shelldigger says:

    Well I mean term limits with no possibility, as in not fucking allowed to be re-elected. You get your one shot (2-4 years) and you are done. Get a real job.

    What often amounts to lifetime seats in the house or congress, (we have a 2 term limit on the presidency) where old fogey’s no longer in touch with reality, who’s decisions have long since been bought and paid for, do not work in anyones best interests, save those who are responsible for the flow of $$

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    • Then join me as emperor and together we can rule the galaxy as blogging pals! Darth ShellDigger shall be your name and together with Darth Mak we can wipe out all politics forever and restore tyranny to the world! Long live tyrannical bloggers! $Amen$

      Like

    • I like your idea of a mandatory one term only, BTW. In Chicago, we’ve got old farts who’ve been alderman since Fred Flintstone was a baby. To say they’re corrupt is like saying firetrucks are red. One term only would greatly cut a lot of that shit. Wouldn’t end all corruption, but man, it would certainly put a big cut into it.

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      • shelldigger says:

        Exactly! There is probably no way to eliminate political corruption, but term limits of some sort would help. At least it might take a little while for the new blood to get bought out.

        The problem would then become keeping the lobby interests from frontloading the system with handpicked candidates, but that probably is already more an issue than we might know. Any attempt to fix the system would likely just make the corrupt-ors just work twice as hard. Term limits would be good, having a follow the $$ watchdog group would help too.

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        • Those two things combined would change who runs for offices. Eliminate the possibility of elected dictators for life, take away their corporate $, make them go on medicaid and work for minimum wage, and we might just have a start to something.

          Like

        • makagutu says:

          Replacing the politicians is one side of the problem. You have non elected officials who oil the corruption networks. There should be away of dealing with them too

          Like

          • shelldigger says:

            Lobbyists? Tar, feathers, rail.

            Clearly our system is a dysfunctional, broken, machine. The only way I can think of to make it honest is to make it a revovling door system. Term limits for every elected position. Also limit the lobby $$, and make that as transparent, public, as possible. It would be difficult to keep up with backroom deals, but damn you gotta starts somewhere.

            The two party system is odd to me too. Our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, for the people. Politicians should all be dedicated to their homes, their country, without some damnable bi partisan cult to cling to. Voting along party lines makes for stagnant gov’t that revels in getting nothing done, all the while keeping the hoo ha machine going full bore. Thats fucked up.

            Like

    • makagutu says:

      they always argue that if they have just one term, they don’t have enough time to achieve any results, so they hoodwink guys into voting for them to continue earning a salary for idling

      Like

  15. nannus says:

    I would define democracy as a system in which there is a peaceful and lawful way to get rid of a bad government and where all people affected by a government’s actions can take part in getting rid of it (i.e. voting it out). Democracy generally has two gaps: 1. people in other states may be affected by a governments action but, not being citizens, cannot do anything about it. Especially, the people of the former colonies have been given “independence”, so that exploitation can go on without them having an influence.
    2. The other gap is that people of the future are affected but have no possibility to influence decissions. As a result. people of the future are exploited, i.e. the planet is destroyed.
    I think it is possible to improve the system so that these exploitative relationships are also regulated. The problem is that these are relationships are relationships of power. A better system is technically possible but the question is if it is possible to get there, i.e. is it politically feasible.
    However, non-democracies have the same problems, plus additional ones, so I prefer to live in a democracy.

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